Ever wanted to see what all the buzz is about Linux, but were afraid to disturb your comfortable Windows setup? Well,
with the impending end of 98SE support, the cost of XP approaching usury, and the looming spectre of Microsoft's
asphyxiating XP "activation" policy, I'm getting motivated to check out the open side. Not quite motivated enough to disturb
my existing system, though...yet. So here's the cowardly solution for the curious: Knoppix
Knoppix is a Debian-based distro (don't I sound knowledgable, though?) on a "live" (i.e., bootable) cd. You can download
the .iso disc image at any of several mirrors via their website (I found the UK download site to be substantially faster than
any of the others, FWIW). Download this um... penguin and burn it to a cd. You may need to set your computer's BIOS to permit
it to boot from a cd.
Pop the cd into your drive, reboot, and moments later you're in Linuxland! And because everything is running from the
cd, no changes are made to your existing setup.
The beauty of this disc is that it automatically recognizes most recent hardware, and so runs flawlessly without your
having to bend over backwards with configuration details. The disc is chock full of applications for you to sample, ranging
from web browsers to games to music apps to a full-blown office-like productivity suite, just to mention the highlights. And
if after all that, you should decide that Windows sucks even more than you'd previously believed, you can even install it
to your hard drive using the included scripts.
Did I mention it's free?